Dear Annie: I worked part time for good friends now over 20 years ago. The wife was in charge of the medical office; her husband was a doctor whom my husband and I had known way before she met and married him. Two other ladies worked in the office full time also and had been there years before me. After working part time for over four years, the wife hired a new lady as a receptionist. I became good friends with the new receptionist. She had a very dysfunctional life, was married to an abuser and had a young daughter who seemed mature way beyond her years and was a great kid.
She finally divorced the abuser husband and then set her sights on the doctor. I told her not to do this, as he had two young children, but she continued. The doctor fell for her hard. I had private conversations with him to stop this affair because he had a family, and I knew she was sleeping with other guys she had met in bars. He continued and said he was in love with her. His wife found out, and they divorced. He married this girl.
After all these years, I still have guilty feelings, as I think I should have told his first wife of the affair and maybe they could have worked things out. I know the other two ladies in the office also could have said something, but no one did.
Should I sit down with the ex-wife and tell her I am sorry and that I should have told her what was happening in the office? She raised her two children and seems happy, but never remarried. We talk occasionally and meet occasionally for dinner. — Still Feeling Guilty
Dear Still Feeling Guilty: Everyone involved in this affair is an adult who is responsible for making their own decisions. This man was not a faithful husband, and his marriage would have likely fallen apart with or without your interference.
If you are truly close to this woman, then she might have interpreted your silence as an act of betrayal. In which case, an apology and a chance to express herself might be exactly what she needs. But it doesn’t sound like that was the situation.
Feel free to apologize to ease your own guilty conscience, but don’t expect that it will make the wife feel better. In all likelihood, it will simply remind her of a memory that she is desperate to forget about.
Dear Annie: I lost my beautiful daughter three months ago to breast cancer. She was young, beautiful, kind, my best friend and secret keeper. She was just 43 years old with two beautiful kids. She was hungry for life and thirsty for her kids. This pain is unbearable. I feel like a piece of my heart is gone. Her death has left a big hole. Everywhere are signs and memories of her. I cry day and night.
I don’t know what to do. I miss her every minute. Do you have any suggestions for me? I live in Sacramento and have family all around me. I have another daughter, a son and four grandkids, but nothing helps me. I don’t want to think about anybody other than my beautiful “Shelby.” — Drowning in My Daughter’s Death
Dear Drowning: I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. “Shelby” sounds like an incredible woman with a beautiful spirit whose time with us was cut far too short.
Grieving any loss is painful, but that of a child is especially excruciating. There will never be a day where you don’t miss her, but the burden will, over time, become easier to bear. Being in the company of others who’ve experienced a similar loss may bring a sense of comfort. Try attending a local grief group meeting when you’re ready. I’d also suggest seeing a therapist one-on-one to begin working through your mourning.
Though it’s difficult right now, do lean on your family for support and companionship. They’re also adjusting to a life without Shelby and, I’d imagine, feel just as heartbroken and lost. It’s together that you will begin to mend the hole her death has created. Talk about Shelby, share your favorite stories of her and keep her memory alive. While she may no longer physically be here, she will always be with you in your heart.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]